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Alexander Alekhine vs Milan Vidmar
New York (1927), New York, NY USA, rd 13, Mar-09
Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange. Saemisch Variation (D35)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-07-04  schaduw2: Alekhine had planned 20.Qh8+ but after Kf7! 21.Tf1+ Kg6!! the queen is lost!
Jun-11-08  Zickzack: According to Vidmar, Alekhine fell into long calculations in his 20th move. Apparently, because he did not see the mentioned line 20. Qh8+ Kf7. 21. Tf1+ Kg6 before. Capablanca told Vidmar around the 19th move that he, Vidmar, was completely lost. Vidmar denied it, Capablanca insisted, Vidmar denied again, and then Capablanca had a deeper look. When Capablanca found the refutation of Qh8+, he shouted "Mon dieu".

In the tournament book however, Alekhine claimed to have seen it coming since ten moves and that the combination was supposed to end in a perpetual check. This is very unlikely, given Vidmar's story. Vidmar stresses that he himself struggled from move to move and was really happy when this tactical resource showed up.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: I agree with you, <Zickzack>, that Alekhine must have realized only belatedly that his "attack" was only sufficient for perpetual.

In the new (and first English-language) edition of the tournament book ("New York 1927", by Alexander Alekhine, tr. by Mary Lawrence, Russell Enterprises, Inc. (c)2011, at page 118), Alekhine's phlegmatic comment to <18. Rxf8+> (with an appended "!" from AA) reads: "The point of the first sacrifice, whereby an immediate draw is reached."

Objectively stronger, however, in this position (after 17. … Nxe5):

click for larger view

... would have been <18. Bc2> to preserve the LSB with a continuing and promising (but not yet decisive) attack. It is hard to believe that playing the White pieces against Vidmar, Alekhine was looking for an early way to force a draw.

Finally, it also is rather astonishing that Capablanca and Vidmar would have been conversing during the round in the manner described. It called to mind this game: Flohr vs Capablanca, 1936, where Capablanca justifiably felt aggrieved by Euwe's assistance (with the move count as the time control approached) to Flohr.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: One further thought: If this had been anyone else's game, Alekhine certainly would have mentioned the possibility of <18. Bc2> in his notes. Since it was his own game, he probably didn't want to admit he failed to see at the time that <18. Rxf8+> was not good enough to win, so his notes present the impression he was aiming for an early draw all along. Nevertheless, intellectually honest annotations should have included mention of the possibility of playing speculatively for a win at move 18.

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